Way back in March, when people like me first started to ask ourselves what and who would be nominated for Oscars in January, a lot of us assumed that 2014 would be the year of Angelina Jolie. We predicted that her film Unbroken would be an Oscar front-runner and quite a few people felt that Angelina herself would become the second woman to win the Academy Award for directing.
And, it could still happen!
However, with Angelina being pretty much ignored by most of the traditional Oscar precursors and Unbroken getting positive but hardly rapturous reviews, it’s starting to look more and more like Unbroken will be lucky to receive a picture nomination, much less a mention for Jolie.
Now, I haven’t seen Unbroken yet so I can’t really judge whether it deserves any awards consideration or not. However, I can say that Unbroken is not the only film for which Angelina Jolie deserves consideration.
Maleficent came out this summer and did quite well at the box office but it seems to have been forgotten and that’s a shame because it features one of Angelina Jolie’s best performances. The film itself is a revisionist take on Sleeping Beauty, re-telling the story from the point-of-view of the fairy queen Maleficent (played, of course, by Angelina.)
In this version of the story, we see that the true villain was Sleeping Beauty’s father, Stefan (Sharlto Copley). When they were younger, Stefan and Maleficent were lovers but the Stefan eventually abandoned her, knowing that having a relationship with a winged fairy would only serve to thwart his own ambitions. Years later, when the humans attempt to conquer Maleficent’s kingdom, it is announced that whoever slays Maleficent will become the new king. Knowing that Maleficent is still in love with him, Stefan drugs her and then cuts her wings off. Using her wings as evidence to back up his claim that he has killed her, Stefan becomes the new king. The now wingless Maleficent is left alone and embittered. When Stefan’s daughter, Princess Aurora, is born, Maleficent announces that, on her sixteenth birthday, Aurora will sink into a deep sleep and will only be awaken by the kiss of someone who truly loves her.
Maleficent was one of those films that truly divided critics. Male viewers tended to rightfully criticize the film for being tonally inconsistent and for relying too much on CGI. Female critics, however, understood that none of that mattered. As flawed as the film may have been, we knew that the most important thing was Angelina Jolie’s performance. She may have been playing a fairy and she may have been appearing in a movie that was dominated by CGI but Angelina Jolie brought such strength and complexity to the role that she transcended all of the film’s flaws and instead created a thoroughly real character. We understood and we related to Maleficent’s fury. When she first woke up to discover that her wings had been stolen from her, it was devastating because the moment was real. We all knew what had truly happened to Maleficent. When she sought revenge, we sought it with her. When she regretted her actions, we shared her regrets. Her pain was our pain and her triumph was our triumph.
Angelina Jolie gave one of the best performances of the year in Maleficent and she certainly deserves your consideration.